Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reiterated Wednesday that the government was unlikely to impose MECQ extension in Metro Manila and nearby provinces unless the Congress allocates emergency aid for the vulnerable sectors affected by the strict lockdown.
“I’ve already said it’s unlikely unless Congress provides for aid… because the President said so,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he could no longer give food and money for financial assistance to the poor as he again placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna under the modified enhanced community quarantine.
The decision was made after medical health workers in the front lines pleaded to the President to give them at least a two-week break to “breathe” and recover from exhaustion due to surge of COVID-19 cases.
During ECQ and MECQ, the government was able to provide food and financial assistance to the people through the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), which were distributed twice.
“We expect the President to deliver a message to the people on Aug. 17, and he will also announce the new classifications,” Roque said at a press briefing.
“The MECQ in Metro Manila will end on Aug. 18, so expect the President to announce the new classification in Metro Manila and nearby provinces,” he added.
MECQ extension unlikely
He added said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had made recommendations on the new quarantine classifications, except for Metro Manila and the four provinces that went back to MECQ.
“So I think it is without prejudice that the classification for areas other than Metro Manila and the four provinces will be up to the 15th,” he added.
“One of the reasons why the IATF has deferred its decision on the classification of Metro Manila and nearby areas is because we are inaugurating the 250-bed capacity, it will change the critical care capacity of Metro Manila,” the Palace spokesman said.
“My prediction is if the case doubling time does not worsen if it improves, maybe there is a possibility that (Metro Manila will be under) MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) because Metro Manila will have a higher critical care capacity,” he added.
The Palace official clarified later on that he was making assumptions when he raised the possibility of easing restrictions in Metro Manila.
“It’s a decision of the IATF, but on the basis of critical care capacity, if we proceed with the inauguration and use of the 250 additional bed capacity, perhaps it is possible. But it’s just one factor. The case doubling rate should be longer,” Roque said.